Movie Review: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve

(Four Stars)

There are days that define your story beyond your life. Like the day they arrived.

Excellent hard science fiction. Despite that–and several Academy Award nominations and a Nebula and Hugo Awards–it was ignored at the box office. Probably because it was too cerebral.

Everything you do in there, I have to explain to a room full of men whose first and last question is, “How can this be used against us?” So you’re going to have to give me more than that.

Amy Adams makes the movie. She has the best part, best lines, and despite having only one glamour scene looks believable through it all. Whitaker and Renner stumble through their parts.

“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

There’s also a spiritual parable quality to Arrival which can’t be ignored. Let each make of it as he or she will.

“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it, and I welcome every moment of it.”



Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Captain Marvel, written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

(Four Stars)

“Space invasion, a big car chase. Truth be told, I was ready to hang it up until I met you today.” Nick Fury

Lots of fun amid the cinematic mayhem. I like this Nick Fury a lot better; he’s got the best lines. By the end of the film you’re convinced this is what Samuel L. Jackson really looks like. Brie Larson, frankly, is why this rating isn’t five stars. Agent Coulson!

“Does announcing your identity on clothing help with the covert part of your job?” “Said the space soldier who was wearing a rubber suit.”

Marvel seems to do best at origin stories. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel doesn’t know who she is or what’s going on. So we ride along as she figures it out. Great ride. Along the way we find out a lot about Fury, SHIELD, and the Marvel universe.

“This war is just the beginning.” “I’m not going to fight your war. I’m going to end it.”

Unlike so many Marvel movies, not everyone is what they seem. I like discover. I like growth. This movie has lots of both. And lots of special effects.

“I’m kind of done with you telling me what I can’t do.”

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois (Four Stars)


Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, directed by Dean DeBlois

(Four Stars)

“We are no longer safe here. We all have to disappear, completely off the map. We have to fight for their freedom.”

A satisfactory and satisfying conclusion to the series. Plot threads draw much of the earlier work together with a suitable threat to add tension. Lots of repetition from previous movies, but not entirely formulaic.

“You brought a baby to a battle?” “I couldn’t find a sitter.”

The animation is amazing. Human hair so much better done that some characters are almost unrecognizable. The youth are now adults, so of course they look different, though most haven’t changed much. Rendering of loose sand was especially good.

“Out there, beyond the edge of the world, lies the home of the dragons, and I believe it’s your destiny to one day find this hidden world.”

Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old, directed and produced by Peter Jackson (Four Stars)


Movie Review: They Shall Not Grow Old, directed and produced by Peter Jackson

(Four Stars)

A film of World War One “by a non-historian for non-historians” from the point of view of the British infantry soldier on the Western (European) Front. All film footage is from the Imperial War Museums’ archive restored and colorized, narrated by the voices of soldiers who served in it. The result is a terribly intimate view of the horror of World War One.

Some of the footage is not appropriate for children or the weak of stomach.

If you go, by all means stay for the half-hour short following the closing credits of Peter Jackson explains his production process.


Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, directed by Harold Cronk (Five Stars)


Movie Review: Unbroken: Path to Redemption, directed by Harold Cronk

(Five Stars)

“The war’s over.”

The rest of the story. The 2014 film Unbroken relates the World War Two service and prisoner of war experiences of Louis Zamperini. This movie tells of his struggles after the war. Both are based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book: Unbroken: A World War Two Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.

“In the prison camps they tried to take your humanity, and you wouldn’t let them.”

Over 85% of World War Two prisoners of war in the Pacific theater suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which was not then recognized as a specific disorder until 1980.

“God often uses difficulties in our lives to prepare us for a greater future.”

The movie, like the true story, is unabashedly Christian, but it is not Continue reading

Movie Review: Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster

(Four Stars)

“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”

Another retrospective on a childhood fantasy, in this case from the perspective of Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Christopher Robin, grown, married, a father, and well into a mid-life crisis.

“Your life is happening now, Right in front of you.”

Apt to be enjoyed by adults more than children. Unlike the Calvin and Hobbs approach, other people see and hear Christopher’s moving and talking. Piglet and Eeyore are perfect; Pooh and Tigger less so.

“Christopher Robin, what’s your favorite day?” “Today.”

Movie Review: The Incredibles 2 (Four Stars)


Movie Review: The Incredibles 2, written and directed by Brad Bird

(Four Stars)

“You know it’s crazy, right? To help my family, I gotta leave it to fix the law, I gotta break it.”

Great story, great cinematography, great music. Reprises the basic themes of the first movie with elaborations. Good family fun, though a few vocabulary gaffs–perhaps intentional to score a PG rating. Lots of fish-out-of-water Dad babysitting gags.

“Done properly, parenting is a heroic act… done properly.”

Warning: the movie features blinking black-and-white sequences which cause some people headaches and even loss of consciousness.

“I’ll watch the kids, no problem.”

Movie Review: Solo, directed by Ron Howard (Four Stars)


Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Movie, directed by Ron Howard

(Four Stars)

“I’ve got a good feeling about this.”

A worthy expansion of the Star Wars movie library. Not bad by itself. All the more amazing as director Ron Howard took the reins eleven months ago, and is reputed to have reshot significantly portions. As a story it works. Oh, yeah, it’s an action-oriented space opera, what do you expect? The Empire looms in the background, the Force is never alluded to (thought there is …), but there’s no doubt it is a Star Wars story.

“I heard a story about you. I was wondering if it’s true.” “Everything you’ve heard about me is true.”

Like Rogue One, Solo plows a new furrow. It connects to the main SW sequence in significant ways, but it’s its own story. Satisfying ending with plenty of hooks to potential follow on movies.

“Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.”

Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin (Five Stars)


Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine, directed by Andrew and John Erwin

(Five Stars)

“Every feel like everything in your life is building to one big moment? This is it.”

Not just a really good Christian movie, a really good movie. Well written, well acted, well filmed and well produced. Based on the story behind MercyMe’s song by the same name.

“God can forgive you, I can’t.”

All about redemption, in many different forms.

“I saw God transform him from the man I hated to the man I wanted to become.”

Christian books and movies need to be good books and movies. They don’t get a bye because they are faith-based. This movie vindicates that opinion.

“The dad I wanted is about to leave me. How is that fair?”